Logan couldn’t help the smile that played on his lips when she claimed him. Her chest filled with pride at hearing it. It was the first time that she had said it allowed, at least in front of him.
What he found more amusing was that she hadn’t called him her boyfriend. True they were together and dating, but both knew it was more than that. Boyfriend wasn’t a title for him. There was nothing definite about it. A boyfriend was someone you could grow tired of and leave without a second thought. A boyfriend wasn’t really as serious as some thought. The fact that she had called him her man. That was different. She had let the world know that he was hers forever. No matter what happened, he would always be hers and vise versa.
Logan noticed the woman looking at him a bit strange, as if she was trying to figure him out. He extended his hand, hoping that they wouldn’t notice the small quiver. “Nice to meet you.”
Marie’s father only looked at him for a second, sizing him up. Logan knew that he would be tough. Reluctantly, the man took his hand, grasping it firmly. When Logan tightened his own hold, the man couldn’t help but smile.
“That’s a good handshake you got, Logan,” the man said quickly as he drew back his own hand. “I always told Marie that you could see a man’s character in his handshake. ‘Don’t choose a man with a limp handshake, Marie. He won’t be no good to you.’ That’s what I always said. Glad to see that she listened. Name’s Ray. This is my wife Leah. Good to have you in my home. It’s been a long time since we last saw our baby girl and we’ve worried, but it looks like you’ve been taken care of her.”
“Yes sir. She’s something else.” Logan smiled down at Marie as she smiled back. He extended his hand to Leah, but she didn’t take it. Instead, she threw herself into his arms and hugged him just as tight as she had Marie. Logan didn’t know what to say as he hugged her back.
Leah pulled away with tears in her eyes. “My daughter says you’re her man. Well, that makes you family to me. She wouldn’t say that about you if it weren’t serious. My daughter always did fall hard. I’m just glad to see that she’s found someone to love her just as hard.”
“Why don’t we all go in before the neighbors come out?” Marie said quickly. Logan noticed how tense she was as she looked around. “I have a feeling that not too many people would be all that happy to see me back.”
“I think you’re right, Sugar,” Leah replied as she ushered the group through the front door.
Logan found himself sitting besides Marie at a small, round kitchen table, her parents both looking at him a little skeptically. Now that the initial introductions were over, he had a feeling that the questions would start. At least it seemed that he had made a good first impression.
“Now, Logan, you must remember that our daughter disappeared from our home three years ago without a good bye,” Leah began, eyeing Marie closely. “We only found out what happened when that Cody boy’s parents beat down our door. You must understand that we’ve been a little worried about her. We’d like to know what she’s been up to.”
“Yes, Ma’am. I understand.” He cleared his throat, the nerves in his stomach bunching up again.
“Don’t start with the Ma’am shit. I ain’t that old.” Leah smiled at him, helping him to feel a little more at ease. “Now, first of all, how old are you?”
“He doesn’t know, Momma,” Marie replied before Logan could. “He can’t remember anything from before about 18 years ago.”
“Why is that?” Ray asked, interjecting. “Were you in an accident or something?”
“No, sir,” Logan replied. He wasn’t sure how they would take it, but he knew he had to be honest. If something happened, something unexplainable, he would be forced to look like a liar. “I was apart of a mutant experiment for the military. They did some procedures on me and I’ve blocked it all out.”
“The military, huh? Yeah, I believe it. They aren’t too good on human mutant relations. If you don’t mind, what is your mutation, exactly?” Leah asked, a disgusted look on her face. Logan couldn’t help but wonder if she had once had her own run in with the military.
“Well, I heal fast. Really fast. Also, I have enhanced senses. Kind of like a wolves.” He paused for a moment, clearing his throat. This next one would be a little tough and might even scare them. “And I have claws.”
“Claws?” Leah was a little taken aback. Ray had a dark look cross his features for a moment.
“In my hands. I’m what’s known as a feral mutant.” Logan waited for a reaction, maybe a recoil from Marie’s parents, but they only looked at him a little more closely before continuing their questions.
“What do you do for a living?” Ray asked.
“I teach self defense at a school for mutants. Along with a little substituting here and there when needed.”
“He’s actually really great at history,” Marie interjected. “He helped to make it more interesting than the books.”
“So you were a student of his?” Ray asked, again looking at Marie pointedly. “Is that how you met?”
Marie smiled a little, and Logan knew she was remembering that day. “Actually, we met before either of us found out about the school. We were in Canada, and I hid in the back of his trailer. I had been on the road for about eight months by then, and he seemed like the safest bet, but I was a little scared to ask, so I just stowed away until he realized I was there. That was the first time he saved my life.”
“And we’ve pretty much been together since then,” Logan added on. He noticed how her parents were looking at him and knew they had taken the statement wrongly. “I don’t mean romantically.”
“Logan was my friend first. He took care of me and made sure I was safe and with good people when he couldn’t be there. He helped me realize that there were people out there who could look past my mutation and trust me enough not to hurt them,” Marie said softly as she looked at him. He hadn’t realized that she had felt that way. “I didn’t learn to control my mutation until just recently. I want to talk to you about that, though.”
“Later, baby. We’ve still got a few more questions,” Ray said, smiling at her and patting her hand lightly before turning to Logan again. “Just what are your intentions with my daughter, anyway?”
“I love her, and I want her to be happy. She’s just as much as mine as I am hers. I won’t hurt her, if that’s what you want to know. Not intentionally anyway.” He took Marie’s hand in his own, feeling the warmth it gave off. “I got a feeling that we will be together for a long time.”
“That’s easy to say now, but what about when she’s in her sixties? Or even in her fifties? What’s it going to be like when she starts looking older? When she can’t keep up with you? What then?” Logan understood Ray’s fears for his daughter. It was why he had never really settled down before. He didn’t want to hurt anyone.
“I’ll still love her then, no matter what.” Logan said sternly. It wasn’t something he was going to go back on. It was for life.
“Besides, Daddy, I won’t age like that anymore, so I won’t have to think about it,” Marie replied with a sheepish smile. “When I got control of my mutation, I found out that I could use the mutations of those that I had touched before. Well, there have been a couple of instances when I’ve had to use Logan’s. Now it’s permanent and I don’t really have to worry about getting older.”
“What the hell do you mean, ‘a couple of instances’?” Ray’s eyes grew darker. It was apparent to him what she meant, but he had to hear it out loud.
“Right after we got to the school, there was an accident, and I was hurt pretty bad,” Marie began. Logan was only grateful that she didn’t describe the accident she was talking about. How would they like him after finding out he had stabbed her, accident or not. “I would have died if I hadn’t touched Logan and borrowed some of his healing.”
“And the second time?” Leah asked softly. She was clutching Ray’s hand now, and Logan couldn’t help but notice the way her knuckles seemed to whiten.
“Well, there was a man who wanted to use my mutations to do something bad,” Marie began softly. “After the first accident, one of his people was able to trick me into leaving the school.”
Logan sat back and listened for the next twenty minutes as Marie told her parents about what had happened at the Statue of Liberty. He saw the reactions on her parents faces, and added his own point of view when it was needed. Marie made him look like a savior in their eyes, but his side of the story made them see that he was nothing but a man saving a person he cared about.
When the story was told, Marie’s parents seemed to be a little overwhelmed. Leah looked from one to the other, tears in her eyes.
“I wish you hadn’t left the way you had, Marie. We would have taken care of you. This wouldn’t have happened.”
“If I hadn’t, then Magneto would have succeeded. He wouldn’t have had to send anyone to track me, and there wouldn’t have been anyone to save me. Logan and I would have never met and he would have never been dragged into being an X-Man. He wouldn’t have been there to save me.” Marie looked at her parents pointedly, and, for the first time since they arrived, he saw the rogue in her again. “Whether Scott would have shot the damn contraption or Magneto succeeded, I would have died. And you might have been killed, too. I don’t regret the things that happened. When I left, I thought that I was protecting you. You know what this town is like. Maybe if you had been honest with me from the beginning, I would have come to you instead of leaving.”
“What are you talking about, Marie?” Ray asked quickly. But Logan and Marie both saw the way his eyes widened. Both could hear the uncertainty in his voice. He knew exactly what she was saying.
Marie took a deep breath, preparing herself for the inevitable. “Why didn’t you ever tell me you were a mutant, Leah? Or that neither of you were my real parents?”